Dark Angel Chapter 31
Hyperspace was a bright, swirling thing, it seemed. The science behind
its appearance was beyond most explanation, but it certainly made for a beautiful
if somewhat dizzying sight.
Darrell glanced at his partial reflection in the window hed been staring
through, brushing irritably at a few strands of his neck-length hair that
had dared remove themselves from his ponytail, and sighed as he turned to
These new clothes are a godsend, I suppose, but what I wouldnt
give for a haircut.
Terra chuckled as she looked him over from her seat in the ships main
recreational cabin. I dont know, it suits you. Works with the
Darrell rolled his eyes and took a seat across from her. I guess it
looks okay. At least we had a chance to clean up at all; we were all looking
like war orphans.
Suppose we were war orphans, after a fashion. Meryl broke in
as she entered the room, followed closely by Cynewulf. Thank the powers
that be for warm showers, though. I wish Id never gotten out of
Heh. Darrell glanced through the door theyd come through
as the two Seekers took a seat. Where are Mathiu and Kayla at, anyway?
I figured theyd want to be around while we talked about our plans.
Kayla insisted on watching those two traitors of ours, Cynewulf
said, his cybernetic eye momentarily flickering, and Mathiu, lovesick
child that he is, insisted on staying with her.
Damn it. Shell never be any good to us if she doesnt snap
out of her little funk, and hes as good as worthless as long as she
is. Darrell shook his head.
Terra gave Darrell an incredulous look. Have a heart, Darrell, honestly.
Poor girls been through hell.
And we havent? This is a war, Terra. If a person cant take
the damage that goes with that, they should stay out of it entirely.
The purple-haired woman just shook her head and turned her gaze to the window,
firmly away from Darrell.
Cynewulf waited a moment in hopes that the tension would ease itself, but
it was to no avail. Alright, then
he said, clearing his
throat. Lets get our plans straight here.
Possibly an explanation of why were going back to Zion, that
would be nice. Terra said, half-muttering.
Thats fairly straightforward. Cynewulf said, rubbing the
back of his one head with one hand. This ship does have the stuff we
need to track lavoids, that much is true. However, if we want to track a
specific lavoid, were going to need some of its genetic material; something
for the tracker to sniff out, if you will. Only place I can think of to get
that is at the source; hell have left something behind we can get
And from there, I presume, its a straight jump to the lavoid.
Meryl leaned back in her seat, her posture belying the graveness of her
expression. Unless anyone here can think of anything else to increase
our chances at a win.
Darrell grinned a bit and shook his head. Between myself and our cyborg
friend here, Id say the odds are already excellent.
Well well well, Mr. Shard. Welcome to Torlose, the man muttered,
grinning as he looked about him. It has been quite some time since
weve been here.
He walked alone in the center of Newpark Citys massive political district.
The crowds were about average for midday, and he was entirely ignored. That
was fine with him; he took great pride in being unnoticed.
His name was William Shard. He was an average-looking, rather nondescript
man with short blonde hair and a sharp, well-trimmed goatee. He was extremely
well-toned, certainly, but he hid this fact beneath a bulky jacket and
loose-fitting clothing popular to the city whose streets he walked.
He slowed and stopped as he came before one building. It was low and squat,
but surrounded with an electrified fence. A sign sat just in front of the
main gate, reading Roade Labs.
More like Vanhele Labs, these days. He said with a grin, pulling
tight the gloves over his hands again. Just the place he was looking for.
Now then, shall it be through the main gate, or over the fence? The
fence is certainly faster but, ah, so many people around during the day.
He cocked his head for a moment, turning slightly to regard the man at the
gate. A fairly average-looking soldier, armed with a plasma rifle that Shard
would wager had never been fired outside the range. I suppose I feel
chatty today: the gate it is.
In scarcely a heartbeat, the man had taken another step and was at the
guards side. Grinning widely as he saw he was still unnoticed, he tapped
on his shoulder. Excuse me, good sir.
The guard fairly leapt off the ground at the greeting, bringing his rifle
to bear nervously as he turned to face William. Wha
what is your business here? he stuttered, somewhat short of breath.
Why, my good man, I have an appointment with Senator Vanhele.
He flashed a charming smile and slipped his hands deep inside his jacket
pockets. Why else would I be here?
The guard blinked, lowering his rifle cautiously and looking honestly confused.
I dont remember being told anything about that
may I see
William smiled again, and his dark eyes seemed to glitter for a moment. I
already showed you my papers, remember? Youve been working too hard,
he nodded slowly, as if digesting this information. Past time for my
break, really. You go on through, buddy, looks like everythings in
A wide smile still on his face, William patted the guard on the back and
walked on through the front gates.
Thousands of years ago, the cityscape that greeted the morning sun had been
known as New York. It had been a center of trade on Old Jerusalem in those
days of men: a center of power as well when the world had united as one
autonomous government. It had been the birthplace of the Lavoid Project on
Earth, and it had been there that the first blood of the Lavoid ascension
had been spilled.
All traces of that ancient city had been ripped away now, stone and glass
and steel thrown away to make room for more efficient biological materials.
The Great Hive, as a result, had not been built, but grown. It was a hideous
and glorious monument to Lavoid ingenuity.
The tallest of these spiked, wide-based towers was home to a seething fury
this day, a Chaos-fueled rage that all on the planet could feel. It burned
white-hot in the minds of the lavoids, and all tried to stay as far away
as feasibly possible from it.
After all, the rage of Pyriorias was even more legendary than the Second
Do not question me, Kalar. Simply do not.
Kalar was a Class A lavoid, and unaccustomed to being in any role other than
command. However, when faced with the Lavoid Queen, one did not protest.
I understand your necessity, my Queen. It is simply that the weapon
you entrusted to me is necessary to my fleets survival. Why, just last
month there was an assassination attempt made in the Unexplored Sectors,
Pyriorias almost glowed with power, her eyes narrow. Who do you think
you're speaking to? I will hear no more. Do not make me ask
Yes, my Queen.
Black energy twisted around him, and for several long moments nothing occurred.
Then ever so slowly, a black sword began to shift into view, almost like
a mirage in the Lavoids hands.
The Muramasa, it was called. It was a long, double-edged sword, wrought of
a fine black metal alloy that was similar to steel, yet infinitely stronger.
One side of the blade was edged with adamantine, and the other was edged
with a coating of crystain bane of all lavoid and planeswalker-kind.
Pyriorias would have admired the admittedly fine weapon, had she not seen
it many times before. Indeed, she had been the one who ordered it crafted,
in response to a very unique situation several hundred years ago.
Very good, Kalar. I see you have taken care of it. Perhaps you will
outlast the day, after all. Her will reached out suddenly, and before
Kalar had time to blink, the Muramasa was gone and in her hands. Its balance
was perfect, as always; its size adjusted to best fit each user. In her hands,
it was a greatsword; in, say, a humans, it might be no more than a
simple foil. The magic inhabiting it was strong; indeed, it was one of
Pyriorias more unique triumphs.
Many years ago though but a blink of an eye for one such as the Lavoid
Queen a small group of finori had made the mistake of coming to Earth.
While she admired the ingenuity they had displayed in doing it actually
pinpointing their insertion point enough to shift from another dimensions
version of Earth directly onto the surface she had been aware of them
from the start.
They had been what was left of their races High Council, the most powerful
magic-users the finori race could muster, and almost all that the race itself
Almost all were killed before Pyriorias even arrived on the scene.
By the time their vain struggle had been stopped, there was only one in even
vaguely stable condition.
Exactly what theyd thought they could accomplish in their useless strike,
the Lavoid would never know. She sensed that accomplishment had not been
what drove them from the smoldering ruins of their homes destroyed
along with their race by the Lavoids but simply a desire to die with
some vestiges of honor.
All but one, sadly, were granted this, thanks to her hot-headed followers.
The last, however, had become a valuable tool in Pyriorias corrupting
Lago. She said simply, and the blue-skinned thing that had been
a finori appeared before her.
My Queen. The being croaked simply, bowing its head. You
have summoned me. Where would you have me wielded?
You will be working with a new partner from now on, my pet. A slight
matter of annoyance has drawn my attention, and you shall be the hand that
smashes it. Pyriorias allowed herself a slight smirk as she snapped
her fingers. Immediately, another blue-skinned figure entered the room. This
one had once been human, it was apparent, though there was little of that
left. Nor was it precisely farilii, however; its mutations seemed more extreme
than that. Its head spikes fairly writhed like living things, and stretched
down to its waist, and its eyes sparkled purple. The Lavoid Queen held out
one hand as though in introduction. Lago, this is my Hunter-Killer,
Berial. He will be your wielder in this.
Berial nodded slightly at Lago as he went to one knee. It honors me
to spill blood for you, my Queen. You need but speak the name, and that life
will be extinguished.
Pyriorias nodded, grinning wickedly now as she handed him the sword in her
hands, hilt-first. As he took it, it shifted forms into that of a long-bladed
katana. I know, pet. I know.
The target is Darrell Shanning.
Oh, come now, Vanhele, you old codger. I didnt come all this
way to hear you stumble over your little doubts and half-replies. I came
for a yes!
William Shard sat behind Vanheles own desk, feet propped up and a cigarette
in his mouth. Standing across from him in front of a hastily-closed door
was a very flustered Teryl Vanhele.
What do you expect, Mr
Shard, was it? Ive never seen you
before in my life, yet here you are sitting at my desk and telling me wild
stories about information from a lost age. How would you react?
The blonde-haired man chuckled and took a long drag on his cigarette. Why,
my good Senator, I believe I would react as though I had just been offered
my very own holy grail, for display on my mantelpiece. And if you are doubtful,
all it will cost you is a few men, a few ships, and a week or two to verify
what Im telling you.
Vanhele shook his head. It all just seems a bit too randomly benign
to me. A mysterious stranger shows up in my office without an appointment,
and offers me something anyone in the galaxy would pay millions for? What
do you gain from all this?
Afterward, Vanhele would realize he had no conscious memory of Shard ever
moving from his seat, but even so he found the man standing not an inch from
his face a heartbeat later, his eyes twinkling strangely.
I assure you, Senator, I only want what is best for the Planetary Union.
You can trust your old friend William, cant you?
The older man started a confused nod for a moment, then froze in mid-movement
and stumbled back into the wall, one hand going up in front of his face.
what was that? Get out of my head.
Shard laughed at that, then took another step forward and was beside Vanhele
once more. His eyes retained that eerie glow. Why, youre more
willful than I thought youd be, Teryl my boy. Guess Ill actually
have to concentrate to make this all work out. After all
Vanheles attention slipped for several seconds at this, and he slipped
into a very quiet and happy reverie.
Isnt that right, sir? The senator blinked and looked
up at the voice. It was only William, his advisor.
Im sorry, William, could you repeat that? I was lost in my thoughts
there for a moment.
Shard grinned, waving away the explanation with one hand. Quite alright,
Teryl, happens to me all the time. I was just saying we should go ahead and
get a crew over to Didylos for the excavation of the supercomputer Raziel
I was telling you about in our meeting earlier
"Most people have to act roles given to them. Then again, most of them
haven't even noticed they're even acting."
- Delita from FFT.